Top 10 People Who Got Famous Overnight

Top 10 People Who Got Famous Overnight
VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
For these celebs, life changed in the blink of an eye. For this list, we'll be looking at various celebrities who quite literally became famous overnight due to a viral video or a significant release. Our countdown includes Rebecca Black, Psy, Kim Kardashian, and more!

Top 10 people who became famous overnight

Life can change in the blink of an eye. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 people who became famous overnight.

For this list, we’ll be looking at various celebrities who quite literally became famous overnight due to a viral video or a significant release.

#10: Honey Boo Boo

Real name Alana Thompson, Honey Boo Boo originally rose to prominence on the TLC show “Toddlers & Tiaras.” This show closely followed the lives of child beauty pageant families and received significant criticism for perpetuating the controversial business. Thompson made her first appearance on the show on January 4, 2012, starring in the fifth season opener Precious Moments Pageant 2011. She proved so popular that she returned the following August and later received her own spin-off - the gloriously controversial “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” The show proved one of TLC’s most popular throughout the early 2010s, but it was cancelled in 2014 after it was discovered that Mama June was dating the same man who molested her own daughter ten years earlier.

#9: Kim Kardashian

Kardashian is perhaps the biggest reality star of the 2010s. And it all started from beginnings. Throughout the early 2000s, Kardashian was primarily known as the daughter of Robert Kardashian and stylist of Paris Hilton. But her life changed forever in 2007, when her sex tape with Ray J was leaked and distributed by Vivid Entertainnment, who titled it “Kim Kardashian, Superstar.” The video brought her significant attention, and that same year saw the debut of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” Some people have criticized Kardashian for using the sex tape as a piece of promotional material. Not only that, investigative journalist and author Ian Halperin contends that Kardashian and Kris Jenner leaked the tape themselves, although this claim has been denied.

#8: Mason Ramsey

Most people probably know Mason Ramsey as the Yodeling Walmart Kid, as he was filmed yodeling Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues” in an Illinois Walmart. The video quickly went viral, Ramsey became a popular meme, and the video greatly popularized Hank Williams’ original song. Just one month later, Ramsey was signed to Atlantic Records and released his debut single “Famous,” which reached #4 on the US Country chart. Ramsey has since released two EPs, six singles, was featured on a remix of “Old Town Road,” and voiced Oliver in “The Angry Birds Movie 2.” Who knew that singing in a Walmart could be so prosperous?

#7: Charli D’Amelio

It was only a matter of time before the first bonafide TikTok star was born. Charli D’Amelio is that TikTok star. D’Amelio created her account in June 2019 and began uploading dance videos throughout the following summer. By March 25, 2020, hers was the most-followed account on TikTok with 41.4 million followers. And don’t ask D’Amelio what makes her material work, because she admittedly has no idea, telling MEL, “I wish I could give everyone an explanation as to what happened, but I have no idea.” She has since starred in a Super Bowl commercial, joined and left the web group Hype House, and performed at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game.

#6: William Hung

Hung is one of those celebrities who become ironically famous due to his perceived lack of talent. It all started in 2004, when Hung infamously auditioned for the third season of “American Idol.” He sang (and we use that term very loosely) a rendition of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs,” much to the delight of the judges and the world. Hung became an overnight sensation, appearing on shows like “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” “Entertainment Tonight,” and “Late Show with David Letterman.” While he attempted to use his newfound popularity to launch a music career, most analysts agree that his fame derived from mockery. Luckily, Hung decided to drop the music career and began working as a technical crime analyst for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

#5: Danielle Bregoli

Bregoli’s life changed forever on September 14, 2016. It was on that day that her segment on “Dr. Phil” aired, which saw Danielle and her mother Barbara discussing her problematic behavior. After being literally laughed at, Bregoli told the crowd to “catch her outside” for a fight, which instantly became one of the biggest memes of 2016. However, her meme-worthy status resulted in a prosperous business deal, and she released a single as Bhad Bhabie titled “These Heaux” on August 24, 2017. It was successful enough that Bregoli was signed to Atlantic Records (the same company that signed Mason Ramsey). Atlantic released her debut mixtape, 15, in September 2018. Her discography includes the gold-selling single “Bestie” and the platinum-certified “Gucci Flip Flops.”

#4: Susan Boyle

Boyle may serve as an inspiration to us all. Boyle was quite visibly laughed and gawked at while auditioning for “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2009. And then she started singing. Boyle belted “I Dreamed a Dream,” the audience went ballistic, and Boyle found herself an immediate internet sensation. The episode aired on April 11, 2009, and even though she ended up losing to dance troupe Diversity, Boyle won the public’s heart. Her debut album, suitably titled I Dreamed a Dream, topped the Billboard 200 for six weeks and set a record in the UK for the biggest first week sales of a debut album. Boyle went from singing in a parish church to singing in front of the Queen and selling nineteen million albums.

#3: Rebecca Black

Sometimes, a song is just so terrible that it unites the world. Such was the case with Rebecca Black’s infamous “Friday.” “Friday” was officially released on February 10, 2011 and was instantly ridiculed for its horrible production, childish lyrics, and Black’s horrendously auto-tuned vocals. The video gained popularity after it was mentioned by “Tosh.0” and comedian Michael J. Nelson, and by the following March, it had accrued over thirty million views. Black became an internet sensation, but for all the wrong reasons. However, that didn’t stop her from capitalizing on her newfound fame, and she continuously releases new music and uploads videos through her eponymous YouTube channel. Good for her.

#2: Psy

There are viral songs. And then there’s “Gangnam Style.” Psy was an established Korean pop star long before the “Gangnam Style” craze of 2012, having released five studio albums since 2001. But his life undeniably changed forever on July 15, 2012 upon the release of “Gangnam Style.” This wasn’t just another flavor-of-the-month song. This was a global phenomenon - racking up world records, topping dozens of music charts, launching a dance that was performed by various world leaders, and becoming the first YouTube video to hit the seemingly elusive milestone of one billion views. Many artists have since attempted to recapture this magic with their own silly song and dance, but none have ever done it as well as Psy. This was pure lightning-in-a-bottle magic.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Alex from Target
Sometimes All It Takes Is Someone Filming You at Your Job...

Ken Bone
...Or Asking About Energy Policies at a Presidential Debate

Jeremy Meeks
The “Hot Felon” Became a Professional Model Thanks to His Mug Shot

Salt Bae
Who Knew Salting Meat Could Look So Stylish?

#1: Lil Nas X

If anything, the success of “Old Town Road” proves that the music industry has forever been changed. In the past, making a hit song would require professional production and studio time. But Lil Nas X purchased the beat online for $30, recorded in a budget studio during their “$20 Tuesdays” special, and promoted the song through memes. The result was a record breaker that became the longest-running number one song in Billboard Hot 100 history. After it was released on December 3, 2018, it remained at the top for a staggering nineteen weeks, handily displacing both “One Sweet Day” and “Despacito.” Lil Nas X was subsequently honored by both Time and Forbes, and “Old Town Road” has been certified 12x platinum by the RIAA.